Monday, 26 April 2010

Black-winged Stilt - Clifton Backies, York

The start to the local patch trip was not really much different from that of the last few days, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap all singing away, a single Barn Swallow was noted flying low through to the east. I was not expecting too much from this mornings visit as I didn't have a great deal of time before work and I was also walking the dogs at the same time, a combination that never seems to end well.

After little excitement and time pressing on and nothing of note I decided to turn back towards home, as I turned back to call the dogs I couldn't believe my eyes as the unmistakable shape of a Black-winged Stilt appeared before my eyes low over an adjacent hedgerow, its ridiculously long legs seeming to stretch for infinity behind its small body and long neck and long bill, its all dark wings being immediately evident also, a truly unmistakable bird. A double and triple take revealed that the bird was definitely real as it gradually gained height and flew off west. A quick email was sent out to the local York birders group and Birdguides were phoned in the hope that someone out and about would connect with it. A look at my watch revealed that I was going to be late for work, because the bird had flown out of sight I was happy that it wouldn't loop round and come back so I left the site rather pleased with myself.

Later in the day the bird (presumably the same one) was relocated at Nosterfield. It is highly likely that the bird on my patch was the same bird that was seen briefly on Sunday morning, also at Nosterfield. A quick look on Birdguides Online Guide to Rarer British Birds showed that there have previously been 2 records from North Yorkshire, a single bird in 1991 (Filey) with a party of 3 birds in 1993 (Wheldrake Ings), both of these records pertained to birds that seem to have travelled around several counties including South and East Yorkshire, other birds have been recorded in 1986 (South Yorks), 1983 (East Yorks) other than that it was Pre 1907 and c.1851 (both East Yorks), so a fairly decent Yorkshire bird.

All in all a good day, and I went to work with a big grin, albeit a little later than I should have done. The picture below is not 'the bird', however it is a Black-winged Stilt I have seen on my travels (in The Gambia).

A quick trek round the patch in the evening provided little other than a brief song from a Garden Warbler, 2 Grey Heron, a single Barn Swallow and a new family of ducklings, 9 in total, hopefully they will fare better than the last lot!


  1. Nice one :-) I connected at Lingham Lake (Nosterfield Quarry) this evening 1830-1930 after dipping at Nosterfield Reserve yesterday by about an hour... I got a dodgyscoped record shot:

  2. Glad you saw it, i guess it was farily distant, but at least you can tell what it is in the photo!